America’s summer grilling season kicks off this weekend, and topping the list of favorite grilled foods is steak, followed closely by burgers. 

What’s on America’s grill this weekend?  That’s according to an annual poll conducted by Kelton Research for the American Meat Institute. Twenty-nine percent of consumers polled said steak would be their first choice for grilling this year, followed by burgers (hamburgers, turkey burgers, or lamb burgers) at 27 percent.

Such data supports ideas that seasonal beef demand is increasing, as the industry has witnessed through recent price spikes for boxed beef cutout values. Wednesday’s Choice boxed beef cutout, as reported by USDA, was $210.66 per hundredweight, with Select boxed beef at $192.97. Recent days have seen demand for Choice product increase rapidly, and the Choice/Select spread has widened from $8.46 on April 26, to $17.69 yesterday.

“Clearly, Memorial Day weekend signals barbecue classics on the grill,” says AMI Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Janet Riley. “With so many great meat and poultry options available, backyard chefs can find an endless array of delicious and nutritious grilling choices in the meat case.”

The consumer poll also found that hot dogs will be a major food staple this summer. American’s will eat an estimated 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day, including 150 million during the Fourth of July holiday alone. Baseball fans are expected to consume 20.4 million hot dogs at Major League Ballparks this season.

AMI, however, encourages consumers to monitor cooking temperatures for burgers and handle meat products according to safe food handling recommendations. New AMI polling suggests that only 39 percent of Americans know the recommended internal cooking temperatures of 160 degrees for hamburgers and 165 degrees for turkey burgers.

AMI also reminds consumers to keep meat and poultry cold before cooking; separate raw and ready to eat foods; clean hands, utensils and cooking boards with hot soapy water before and after handling raw meat and poultry, and refrigerate leftovers within two hours.